How To Talk About Divorce With A 3 Year Old Divorce and Your Children

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Divorce and Your Children

The only thing children care about is that they feel safe and loved. Both are challenged when going through a divorce. No matter how much care and attention you give to supporting your children, some of them will blame themselves for the divorce. Children often internalize the breakdown of the marriage as their fault. Your goal, to help your children through this process, is to start healing in the pre-divorce process, before saying the words “I want a divorce.” By building a firmer foundation of love and support before the news hits, you cushion your children from some of the bumps that come with the transition from “Mom and Dad aren’t happy” to “Mom and Dad are break up”.

No matter how young or old, your children need to know three things:

1) that you love them unconditionally

2) who will never leave you, even if you separate from your spouse

3) that the world is a good place and all life experiences are opportunities to learn and grow

Once in the divorce process, it can be difficult to do this because your energy is scattered everywhere. Worry, fear and stress permeate the divorce process and your children will feel this. It reduces the effect by creating an atmosphere of love and trust while the marriage is rocky but still in tact. This will give your children a sense of stability and security.

Most importantly, don’t focus on what you can’t do for your children (i.e. “I can’t give them the family I always wanted”, “I can’t be the model parent”, “I can’t “. keep the house and the cars and the lifestyle they are used to). Focus on what you can do.

Here are two things you can do to greatly lessen the short- and long-term effects of divorce on your children:

1) Show your children genuine love through sincere words and consistent, quality time. Bath time, bed time and lunch time go by a lot. Establish a child-centered routine that gives you uninterrupted time with your children. When the divorce process begins, your mind will be elsewhere and the outcome of the divorce itself will result in fewer opportunities (due to new custody arrangements) to spend time with your children.

2) Go out of your way to find out who your children are. It’s something to listen to. It’s another thing to listen. Get to know your children individually. Ask questions and listen to the answers. Turn off the television, the TV/iPhone, the cell phones, twitter, close the computer and spend ten to twenty minutes a day asking your children questions like:

1) What was the best part of your day?

2) How are the homework?

3) Which friends did you talk to today?

4) Who is your favorite teacher and why?

5) What’s one fun thing you’d like to do this weekend?

Also, when was the last time you visited your child’s school just because? Do you know all the names of their teachers? Have you met the principal? Have you stayed for an entire cub scout meeting just because? When you go to football games, do you watch your child or talk to your friends?

Remember: your children are watching you, even if you don’t pay attention to them.

Bottom line: Kids don’t remember the toys they got for Christmas or the square footage of your house. They remember the hugs, the kisses and all the love you have shown them over the years. That’s what they hold.

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